Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 Gate River Run 15K - Race Report

This is more of a trip report than just a race report.  Since the weekend involved a lot of family time I thought I'd go ahead and include highlights of the weekend and the race.

The 2011 Gate River Run took place on Saturday, March 12th in Jacksonville, Florida.  Jacksonville is my hometown and the River Run is a great opportunity to go home and spend some time with the family.  This was the second year in a row that my family has run the race.  Last year my wife Susan, brother Keith, sister-in-law Diane, and niece Kristen ran the race.  We all did it again this year and added two more.  My twin brother Glenn and his wife Marcia joined us.  This was their first race, so they ran the 5K.  Susan wasn't feeling well so she decided to run the 5K as well.

In keeping with this year's more environmentally friendly theme, several days before the race the directors e-mailed participants a "virtual race bag".  It included links to coupons, sponsor websites, and maps of the pre-race expo, race start and finish, 5K and 15K courses, and post-race festivities, all in pdf format.

I woke up on Friday morning at 3AM feeling pretty bad.  I'd spent the night nursing a sore throat, headache and fever.  It's not easy trying to sleep with a throat lozenge affixed to the roof of one's mouth.  At around 8AM I called my brothers and told them I was sick and we wouldn't be coming to Jax.  Susan and I had intended to leave the house at 9AM.  Susan made me some breakfast and coffee and at around 10:30AM I took a shower and felt much better.  So, at 11:30AM we decided to go after all.  I took our dog Max to Puppy Tubs in Peachtree City while Susan got ready and did some final packing.  I returned home, we loaded up the car and we headed for Jax at 12:30PM.  This was much later than we had planned to leave but, what the hey...

An assortment of medication would help me make it through the weekend and the race, along with an endless supply of Kleenex and paper towels.  I found that using even two Kleenex's to absorb the contents of a nose in full flow was totally inadaquate and resorted to the less soft but more absorbent paper towels.  The Chamois Butt'r and the Body Glide were for my feet.

My Meds
The distance from our house to my brother's house just south of Jax is a 350 mile drive.  By the time we arrived in Jax I was having some pain in my right leg.  Great, one more thing!

While we were driving down from Atlanta my niece was collecting our race bibs, shirts and schwag.  The 15K'ers received an Adidas technical shirt and 5K'ers got a cotton shirt.

2011 Gate River Run 15K Adidas tech shirt
The color of the Adidas technical shirt for the women in the 15K race was a slightly lighter blue.

2011 Gate River Run 5K Charity Run cotton shirt
2011 Gate River Run 15K bib
On Friday evening we all feasted on spaghetti and meatballs, salads, and garlic bread.  On Saturday morning we had bagels and coffee.  I had four GU gel packets for use later during the race. 

We left the house on race morning at 6:15AM, picked up my niece and got to the Jaguar's stadium at 7AM.  We found free parking at the Sun's stadium. 

The 5K charity run was not timed however, the 15K race was timed via MYLAPS bib attached RFID chips.  The bibs had each runner's first name imprinted in large type.  I heard my name called out several times.  That was cool!  Timing mats were located at the start, 5K and 10K points, and finish line.  Water stations with water and Gatorade were located all along the 15K course.  Many of the water stations were manned by residents and volunteers supporting the countless politicians running for local office.  There were also several live bands performing on the course and spectators with music and noise makers of their own.  The course had smooth and flat pavement except for the few minor rises in elevation, and the Main Street Bridge and Hart Bridge, of course.  The bridges are also where runners would find grates on the roadway.  The long downhill run from the top of the Hart Bridge to the finish line is a welcome sight although the last 200 yards to the finish line were slightly uphill.

Before the race started the announcer asked the runners to observe 15-seconds of silence in memory of Sally Meyerhoff.  Ms. Meyerhoff was an elite female athlete that was hit and killed by a car while cycling only a few days before the race.  She had placed 9th amongst the female runners in the 2009 race.

The weather at the start was clear blue skies with cool temperatures in the low 40's.  We stayed bundled up and out of the shade.  Before the race I wore a fashionable ankle length trash bag to keep warm.  I think I looked a bit like Steve Carell in Evan Almighty

After the race the temperature rose to the mid-60's.  We took a quick tour of the post-race festivities.  I entered a raffle at the Geico tent and got a free hat and key ring.  There was also a beer truck dispensing free beer.  The beer line grew fast.

Susan and I at the Jaguar, with beer
The results were posted online that evening and the first 680 finishers were printed in the Florida Times-Union newspaper on Sunday.  I placed 43rd in my age-group and 508th overall.  My chip time was 1:04:43 (clock time 1:04:53) with a 6:57 pace. 

Race results in the Florida Times-Union newspaper (check # 508)
All the 15K race finishers received a medal.  The top 10% of finishers received a hat instead.  I qualified for the hat last year but didn't realize I should have gotten one.  When I went back to the finish line the hat guy was out of hats.  I wasn't going to make that mistake this year.  In fact, unknowingly, I ended up with both a medal and a hat.  Oops!

2011 Gate River Run finishers' medal
2011 Gate River Run Top 10% Finisher hat
The "Don't be a pig" note
The note in the above picture was in the inside rim of the hat.  Since I don't run with my glasses I didn't get the opportunity to read it until I got home.

Expo and race day schwag
The free pizza cutter I didn't get
After the race we ate lunch at Mojo Kitchen on Beach Blvd. in Jax beach.  The service and food were both very good.  The restaurant got pretty crowded by the time we left.  I even had the opportunity to see some folks ride up on cruiser bikes drinking a can of beer.  I miss Florida!

Mojo Kitchen
The family at the table on the right
Pulled pork, coleslaw, and toasted bread
Carolina pork, fries, and toasted bread
Diane with her beef brisket sandwich and baked beans
Susan wanted to get some fresh seafood before we left so while we were at the beach she picked up 4-lbs of shrimp from Mayport at this place.

Beachside Seafood
Susan waiting for her shrimp
After Beachside Seafood we headed south to Mickler's Landing.  This is where we put my parent's ashes back in 1997.  It's a really pretty beach in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  Back when I was in high school people could drive on the beach. 

Beach rules sign
Whale sightings sign
Boardwalk through the dunes to the beach
Beach warning flags sign
The view north at Mickler's Landing
The view south at Mickler's Landing
The brothers Farmer
The girls
After Mickler's Landing we headed back to my brother's house.  I took a picture of their dog, Jake.

On Saturday evening I was able to get a picture of a 4' long alligator that has made his home in the pond behind my brother's house.

About an hour later my sister-in-law called out "there's the otter".  I grabbed my camera and headed into the backyard.  The otter acted as though he'd been waiting for me to arrive and quickly came on shore about 40' away.  He snorted and rolled in the grass coming closer with each passing minute.  Before I knew it I was getting close-up pictures with my 55mm lens.  With my family cooing in the background "ah, he's so cute" I wanted to pet the sweet little fella.  I was...The Otter Whisperer.  As I reached my hand out the monster bit the crap out of my finger.  I ran back to the house with the ferocious beast following close behind.

Hey, who are you?
Do you want to play with me?
Do you have something for me to eat?
When otters attack!
Susan and I packed up and left Jacksonville for Atlanta on Sunday morning.  One thing we noticed in Jax was that the whole city seemed very clean.  Almost no bandit signs along the roadway and very little trash. These define the scenery in Atlanta.  I commented to my wife that the I-95 interchange near my brother's house has better landscaping than the golf course near our home at Lake Spivey.  After a few hours all the signs indicated we were finally close to home.

I'm glad I saw that sign, I almost missed my exit!
A line of a dozen or so billboards
Billboards on both sides of the highway
Susan and I felt much safer during our long drive knowing that Georgia's politicians had voted to ensure that the billboard companies would have carte blanche to cut down those murderous trees along the roadway. 

What a weekend, drive 700 miles, run 9.3 miles, drink beer, eat BBQ, nurse a cold and a bloody finger.  It's good to be home.